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Applying Boat Lettering

By Michael Vatalaro
Published: April/May 2013

Here are two easy methods to apply vinyl lettering or graphics to your boat.

One of the best parts of getting a new (to you) boat is choosing the name and putting it on the boat to make it yours. The following methods will make it easy to apply Do-It-Yourself vinyl lettering. The "wet" method is best for larger graphics or longer names, such as those that might go on a transom. Generally, if the distance from the center of the lettering to the edge is longer than your arm, you'll want to use the wet method, and probably want a second set of hands to help you. The "dry" method works great for smaller names, ports of call, and registration numbers.

For both methods you will need a ruler or tape measure, masking tape, glass cleaner and paper towels, a pin or razor, plus the squeegee that comes with the graphics. For the wet method, you will also need a spray bottle filled with three drops of dish soap in two cups of water. For the dry method you'll need a pair of scissors.

You'll have better luck with the wet method if the outside temperature is between 65 and 85 degrees. With the dry method, it can be as low as 45 degrees out. With both methods the first step is to clean off the area where the lettering is going to go by spraying it down with glass cleaner and wiping the area dry with a paper towel. Now you're ready to begin.

Design Boat Graphics Now

The Wet Method

1. Apply two pieces of masking tape to the edges of the graphic. Then place the graphic on the clean transom or boat side where it will be applied. Measure the graphic using the bottom of the first and last letter on the same plane.

2. Once the graphic is in the location you want, mark the corners in masking tape.

3. After you have marked the area, remove the graphic from the boat and spread the graphic on a smooth, clean surface with the paper side up.

4. Carefully pull backing paper away from the transfer tape. Don't let the graphic blow in the wind.

5. After removing the backing paper, spray the sticky side of the graphic and transfer tape with the soap and water solution. Wet the entire area thoroughly.

6. Once you have sprayed the graphic, spray the transom or side of the boat where the graphic will be applied. The soap and water solution allows you to slide the graphics around for proper placement, so don't be shy with the spraying.

7. Place the graphic in the desired location. As long as both the graphic and the boat are wet, the letters can be slid into position.

8. When the graphics are in position, squeegee the letters to push the air and water out from under the vinyl.

9. The graphic will need at least an hour to dry in place after you finish squeegee-ing. High humidity will increase drying time.

10. After the graphic has dried, remove the transfer tape by pulling it back from the corners and over itself. Do not pull away from the boat as this could lift the lettering. If you find any air bubbles, prick them with a pin or razor blade and push the air out with your fingernail.

Download a PDF copy of the Wet Installation Steps.

The Dry Method

1. Apply two pieces of masking tape to the edges of the graphic. Then place the graphic on the clean transom or boat side where it will be applied. Measure the graphic using the bottom of the first and last letter on the same plane.

2. Once the graphic is in the location you want, run a piece of masking tape vertically down the center of the lettering to hold it in place.

3. Lift one side of the lettering from the boat, and pull the paper backing off up to the center line of the masking tape.

4. Using scissors, cut the backing paper away from the lettering at the center line.

5. Once the backing paper is removed, pull lightly on the lettering and squeegee outward from the centerline. Be careful to use an even pull to keep it straight. Press firmly with the squeegee to remove any air bubbles trapped under the lettering.

6. Remove the center line tape and the rest of the backing paper on the other side of the lettering.

7. Squeegee outwards from the center as you did in Step Five.

8. Once the lettering is applied, squeegee the entire graphic with hard pressure to attach it to the boat.

9. Remove the transfer tape by pulling it back over itself. Do not pull away from the boat as this can lift the graphics.

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10. Pop any trapped air bubbles with a pin or razor blade and push the air out with your fingernails. You're done.End of story marker

Download a PDF copy of the Dry Installation Steps.


Want to see how your boat name would look? Check out our free easy to use online tool.

 

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BoatUS Graphics

Thinking about angering the gods of the sea? Make it easier on yourself by using BoatUS Graphics and Lettering. We pride ourselves on customer service, high-quality graphics, and an extremely quick turnaround time. BoatUS Graphics and Lettering has been supplying boat owners with custom boat graphics and lettering for over 20 years. Call 1-800-937-3300 or visit www.BoatUS.com/Boatgraphics